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Americana: Hot Licks

1 minute read

Rarely seen at public events without his derby or his pet cross-eyed mule, Sam Lewis has been the butt of jokes in San Angelo, Texas, for most of his 56 years. People laughed when someone put a live rattlesnake, with its mouth sewn shut, in his bedroll at a chili-cooking contest. They laughed even harder when he tried to peddle Hawaiian Delight pizzas, a terrifying concoction of Canadian bacon, pineapple chunks and cherries smothered in tomato paste and melted cheese.

But Lewis may strike it rich with his latest gourmet grotesquerie: lollipops flavored with jalapeño peppers. So far, he has sold 5 million of them, at a nickel a pop. Oilman J.W. Bowen of Odessa, Texas, gave away 4,000 of the suckers at a convention. “It was a gimmick that really worked,” says Bowen. Chevron Chemical Co. has ordered 1 million, with advertising slogans printed on the wrappers. Lewis already has plans to expand—into jalapeño ice cream this spring.

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